A huge new housing scheme for Louth has been given the green light - but only after an eleventh hour intervention by East Lindsey District Council’s head of planning, David Loveday.
Councillors looked set to refuse the outline application for 240 homes, including 80 for elderly people, that had been submitted by Charterpoint Ltd for open land off Grimsby Road.
But they did an about-face and voted eight-two in favour of the development after Mr Loveday pointed out that none of their objections would stand up to scrutiny if the proposal should go to appeal.
To gasps of dismay from the 60 or so residents who had crowded into the public gallery, he said: “I have heard no evidence that would lead me to believe that the council could successfully defend an appeal.”
Mr Loveday reminded Planning Committee members of a similar occasion involving a development off Fulmar Drive, Louth, in which ELDC had lost “hands down” when the matter went before an independent inspector.
The planning supremo’s alert was endorsed by legal advisor Charlotte Lockwood, who warned that an appeal process would undoubtedly rack up substantial costs for the authority.
“I’m not blackmailing you, but things have to be done properly,”she insisted.
Ms Lockwood’s comments struck a chord with committee chairman Coun Neil Cooper who commented: “The last thing we want is another legal car crash for the authority.”
Earlier, Coun Laura Stephenson led the opposition, claiming the proposed houses would have to be “squashed in with a shoehorn”, and Coun Stuart Watson warned of inadequate drainage and a detrimental impact on wildlife.
Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders expressed concerns about the prospect of flooding with the likelihood of chalk sub-structure being washed on to Westgate, creating a traffic hazard for motorcyclists.
She also felt that there could be difficulties for elderly residents seeking to manoeuvre their mobility scooters on the steep, narrow pavements of Grimsby Road en route to and from the town centre.
There was also a presentation from Paul Crick of the ‘Cherish Louth’ group who feared the town might be “blighted with unneeded housing stock”.
Although the principle of development was approved at Thursday’s meeting, the proposal will have to go before the same committee at a subsequent meeting in the New Year for the details to be rubber-stamped
Following the debate, Andrew Clarke, an urban design specialist for the IBI Group, representing Chesterpoint, said he was comfortable with the committee’s decision.
He insisted that the intention was to work in consultation with residents - including those critical of the project.
“We are determined to create a fantastic development which will set new standards of excellence for Louth,”he said.